On Monday, Feb. 3, Robert Garcia, owner of La Casita Restaurant located at 54650 N. Circle Dr., discovered that one of the deer that is part of the “Deer Sightings” project had been stolen. The project is a public art installation sponsored by the Art Alliance of Idyllwild featuring 22 deer painted by Idyllwild artists.
“In the 20 years I have been here, we have never had a vandalism … We were closed for the Super Bowl. We didn’t notice it until 4 p.m. [Monday] when Shanna [Robb, project organizer] came up and asked, ‘Where’s the deer?’” said Garcia, “I didn’t even know until that point.” Garcia filed a report with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
The restaurant has video surveillance and the tape is being reviewed for evidence. “I am so disappointed and aggravated that someone would take this piece of art. All the artists and Shanna have worked so hard on this project and for someone to have the audacity to take it. I couldn’t even work tonight because I kept thinking, ‘Who could have taken this and for what reason?’” Garcia said. “We’re hopeful that we’ll see something on the surveillance system.”
Robb coordinated the “Deer Sightings” project and dedicated six months of her time, heart and soul to the project. For Robb and many in the Idyllwild community, the theft is personal. It’s a breach of trust, according to Robb.
In the hours following the discovery and as the community became aware of the theft, a public outcry has been reverberating throughout the valley.
Kathy Harmon-Luber, AAI board member and one of the “Deer Sightings”
artists, said, “I am outraged as a resident of Idyllwild, a board member of the Art Alliance, and a deer artist that someone would steal one of the deer of our herd. A theft of a deer is a crime against every resident of our community. We need to send a strong signal that this is not acceptable in our village.”
Donna Elliot and Neil Jenkins painted the stolen deer named “Rocky,” and “are absolutely depressed that this happened here.” The theme of their deer was climbing and hiking, a theme that resonated with the couple. “I started climbing here in the early ’70s,” said Elliot. “When Neil and I got together in England we would come here on holiday for climbing. We have a long history here. When we decided to retire we came here. It was a theme that really, really spoke to us. It’s hard to know why someone would do this,” Elliot said sadly. “It puts a damper on the whole town.”
Emily Pearson, an Idyllwild resident for 43 years, was dining at La Casita with daughter Martha and her 5-year-old granddaughter, Harley, when the theft was discovered. “I think it’s awful. I would hope that it’s not someone local who would do this,” Pearson said. “It is so sad. The deer were put out there for everyone to enjoy. Even my little granddaughter Harley was upset about it and she’s only 5 years old. She was telling people about it as they came in the door.”
A social media campaign is underway and it is Robb’s hope that the community and the many folk that love Idyllwild and all that it represents will share the information on their own Facebook page and help bring those responsible to justice. “This is personal. Something significant about Idyllwild was just stolen from us. If we allow this, what is next?” Robb said. “If for no other reason, we need to think about the impact on 5-year-old Harley.”
Capt. Ray Wood of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has assured the Idyllwild community that this investigation will be handled aggressively and advises that information is being collected and all leads will be investigated fully. “I am all over this,” Capt. Wood stated.
AAI will offer amnesty provided that the deer is returned within 48 hours. No questions will be asked and the investigation will be suspended. Anyone wishing to return the deer may contact the AAI via email at Artinidyllwild@gmail.com or by calling 1-877-439-5278.
Investigative leads may be referred to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Hemet Station at 951-791-3400.
Category: Idyllwild News